Gerald Tebben

Five Facts

Gerald Tebben

Gerald Tebben, a Coin World columnist for more than 30 years, also contributes to Coin World’s Coin Values and edits the Central States Numismatic Society’s journal, The Centinel. He collects coins that tell stories.

Coin World’s bloggers are not edited by Coin World’s editorial staff and blog posts reflect the views of the individual author.

Visit one of our other blogs:

As seen on TV: Murderous coin dealer in 'Streets of San Francisco' strikes fake double eagles

Over five weeks, ​I’m highlighting shows from the golden age of television that featured coins in pivotal roles.

What we've covered so far:

No. 2 : Streets of San Francisco, Feb. 1, 1973

Actor Jamie Farr (later Klinger on MASH) is offed at the beginning of this episode of The Streets of San Francisco after smuggling blank double-eagle size gold planchets into the country. (From the Great Depression until 1975, private ownership of gold was highly restricted in the United States.)

In A Collection of Eagles  (season 1, episode 18) murderous coin dealer Vincent Hagopian Jr. uses the planchets to strike fake double eagles, including a 1907 Ultra High Relief, in the basement of his coin shop in Maiden Lane off San Francisco’s Union Square.

Hagopian, played by veteran character actor John Saxon, strikes his counterfeits on a small screw press after hand-engraving the dies himself. He’s careful not to leave any “hair lines,” which he says are telltale casting flaws, on his fakes. His plan is to substitute the counterfeits for real coins in a 40-coin collection that his late father, an honest coin dealer, had built for client John R. James.

The episode has several shots of James’ collection, but no close ups of individual coins. James, according to the story, had purchased the 1907 coin for $22,500 in 1962. With about 15 known, the coin remains a rarity today, often topping $2 million when it appears at auction.

After killing yet another of his accomplices, Hagopian makes the switch. Later he’s captured after a fight at his coin store and the attempted murder of one more associate.

At the end, collector James sends a pair of uncirculated 1882 Morgan dollars to detectives Mike Stone (Karl Malden) and Steve Keller (Michael Douglas) as a thank you. Keller looks them up in A Guide Book of United States Coins and says, “We’re rich — $4 apiece.” Today, they’re $50 coins.

It can be watched free on YouTube.

Next: Hawaii Five-0

More from

2015 Ultra High Relief 24-karat gold coin from U.S. Mint to carry $75 denomination

Error allows U.S. Mint customers to order and receive Proof 2015-S U.S. Marshals Service half dollars early

2015 American Eagle silver bullion coins being struck only at West Point Mint currently

All 2015 Kennedy half dollars to bear 1964 obverse design sculpt employed on 2014 50th Anniversary coins

ANACS reports first example of Missing Edge Devices error for Enhanced Uncirculated 2014-D Native American dollar

Please  sign in  or  join  to share your thoughts on this story.

Keep up with all of's news and insights by  signing up for our free eNewsletters liking us on Facebook , and  following us on Twitter . We're also on  Instagram !

You are signed in as:null
No comments yet